Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Plague

In addition to some lovely Christmas gifts, Sean and I brought home the plague from Boston. On Sunday, we took turns refilling our glasses of orange juice and other beverages. We were ready to put one of those biohazard signs on our door. Monday morning I felt better and made the trek to work. Sean was too sick so he stayed home. In tag team style, it was me who was sicker this morning, so I'm home while Sean's at work. We've both got to make it through tomorrow before our 4-day weekend. We'll need it, for sure.

But like I said, Christmas was wonderful! On Christmas Eve, I got to bake pies with Grandma. It was soooo much fun! I made my first ever crust-from-scratch and my first ever lemon meriangue pie. All were delicious. Here's a close up of the apple pie - you can even see the steam rising out of it.

Apple Pie

One of the gag gifts I got my future sister-in-law (another knitter), was one of those pooping sheep from Joann's. No worries - the sheep "poops" brown jelly beans when you push down on his back. It's actually quite funny when it happens but I didn't know just what a hit this little guy would turn out to be. Her fiance couldn't get enough of him. Now I know what to get him for his birthday.

Sheep Jellybeans

Santa was also very good to me. I got some new books, a couple of bottles of wine, and some travel stuff for Ireland - which is less than 3 weeks away!!! How time does fly. I've got to get KMP's knitted baby blanket done before then because I want a new project to bring with me on the trip. I haven't picked it out yet but I'm guessing I'll get started on the green baby blanket.

I talked a bit about it in this post, but to recap: The baby is due in May and Mom and Dad, who love their Irish roots, have requested a green blanket. They won't know the gender of the baby until the big day so green will be a neutral, fun color for either boy or girl. I thought about getting 4 different greens of Vanna's Choice yarn but I only found 3 greens I liked - Olive, Kelly and Fern. I also bought some in Linen for a contrast.

All this yarn is on it's way in an order from Joann's, along with a little gift for myself. I finally bought myself a ball winder. And girls, I'm hoping to have a swift by MS&W. That should make our after-festival time a bit more productive (and a lot less knotted).

Another reason I need to get KMP's knitted baby blanket done sooner rather than later is that little Edward arrived on the evening of December 23rd. I'm happy to report that Mom, Baby and Dad are all doing very well.

I must be off to drink some more fluids and down some more medicine. I should also get to the store to buy some sparkling wine for New Year's. Cold and flu be damned, I need my bubbly for the New Year!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you all the best this holiday season, whichever holiday(s) you celebrate. May your travels be safe and your eggnog extra strong! Cheers!

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Work in Progress

Just like the baby, KMP's blanket #2 is still a work in progress. ::sigh:: I had hoped to have finished the blanket by now so I could take a different and new project with me on the train ride to Boston tomorrow. Alas and alack, the knitted Homespun blanket will be with me. Unlike KMP's situation, carrying this project around is a lot less of a hassle as an overdue 8 lb baby boy.

Knit Homespun Baby Blanket 3

Currently, the blanket is 37" wide by 19 1/2" long. I'm 2 skeins in and I bought the third one today at Joann's. I had hoped to only use two skeins but that just didn't happen. As a consolation gift, I bought myself an Artbin yarn caddy/organizer. I got it at Joann's for $8 and it's a lovely burgundy color. I didn't have time to put stuff in it today, so it will have to wait until New Year's weekend.

I'll be knitting away on the train for the 7 hour trip up to New England - so there's still a chance this blanket will wind up in the "completed in 2008" pile. But it won't be done in time for the baby's arrival because if KMP hasn't had him already, she's scheduled to be induced tomorrow! (Tuesday Dec 23rd)

Girls - if I hear anything, I'll text message you and vice versa, okay?

Crafty Christmas

I wanted to share a couple of non-crochet/non-knit crafts I made this year. First is a traditional one (traditional meaning I make them each year).

Reindeer Candy Canes - 2008 Version
2008 Candy Cane Reindeer 2

Aren't reindeer candy canes just the cutest thing? Here is the 2008 version next to the 2007 version on the tree.

2007 and 2008 Candy Cane Reindeer

Last year, I made them for both my office and Sean's office. This year, I wasn't even going to bother with them. Then on Thursday, someone in Sean's office noticed the 2007 version on Sean's desk and she asked Sean if I was making them again this year. I was so happy to know someone was looking forward to them that I just had to make a herd. They were delivered on Friday and even more people were delighted to see them again this year.

And here's crafty project #2...Now this was a brand new concept to me. For friends of mine, this was a yearly tradition growing up. The kids would sprinkle the reindeer food out on the lawn on Christmas Eve. Here's mine:

Reindeer Food
Reindeer Food 1

Reindeer food consists of oatmeal (uncooked and not the instant kind) and red and green sugar crystals. The reindeer food is in a baggie and wrapped up in some shiny red wrapping paper. That is wrapped up in a sheer white fabric that I hastily cut into a circle and sewed over the edges with green thread. I tied it up with some gold curling ribbon and attached the tag. You can't see it in the photo, but on the other side it reads:
Sprinkle on the lawn at night.
The moon will make it sparkle bright.
As Santa's reindeer fly and roam,
This will guide them to your home.

Isn't that cute? I only made 2 bags of reindeer food. One was given to a co-worker to share with her grandchildren and the other one was sent up to Buffalo to Brodie. I hope the kids have fun with it. I wish I had know about reindeer food when I was growing up.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Last Minute Gift Idea

I saw this in the Joann's December project newsletter:

Yes, it's a wreath made to look like balls of yarn. The project idea can be found here.

If I had my yarn store, I would totally make one of these for the front door of the store. But I must say that the construction of the wreath appears to be a waste of perfectly good yarn. Gluing yarn to styrofoam balls is good for the weight of the finished wreath, but my heart would be heavy when I looked at that unusable yarn.

Instead, I think you could make this a wonderful gift presentation. Find a fabulous pattern, buy the yarn and ball it into 10 same-size balls of yarn. Using some heavy duty wire (that will hold its shape but not damage the yarn) thread it through the balls to make a ring. Insert two knitting or one crochet hook into the wreath and add a bow in a complimenting color. Add any embellishments, if needed (like stitch markers or fringe or beads - anything the pattern requires. Include the pattern in the box and voila! It's a full knit or crochet kit in the shape of wreath - and no yarn was wasted in the making. :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Funny Because It's True

Thanks to my fabulous cousin, Cassandra, for sending me a copy of the article from the December issue of Sasee, A Sheep On My Back. She said the article reminded her of me. It reminded me of me, too. Seriously - I could have written it myself. The photo even includes a little skein of Cotsoy - just like the little skein I just had to purchase because it was so darn cute.

See any of yourself in the article? ;)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

2008 Crafty Resolutions: A Review

As the holidays rapidly approach and a New Year is right around the corner, it's time to take a look at my 2008 Crafty Resolutions and see how I did (and what I can cram into the last couple of weeks).

Last time I checked on it, it was October.

1) Finish the following UFOs:

Update: The infamous shawl. It's still in pieces and I can't figure out how to put it all together with some kind of edging that makes sense. Does someone want to adopt this project?

2) Make, block and stiffen 25 snowflakes (and yes, the two I've already made count toward the 25)

Update: Not gonna happen in 2008. Is it worth keeping on the list for 2009?

3) Learn to knit socks on double pointed and circular needles.

Update: So freakin' close to getting this resolution done. While I didn't learn to knit socks, I did learn to knit which in itself is a pretty great thing. Socks next year for sure - I've got oodles of sock yarn just waiting to be used!

4) Organize my yarn, books and other crafty supplies in the new craft room

Update on this one - A couple weeks ago, I reorganized all my yarn and all the other crafty stuff stored in the craft room. It's so much easier to find things now. I also created a three-ring binder with all the patterns I've printed out. It's a much better system than cramming everything into a file folder (the previous system).

5) Make a shawl from the Amazing Crochet Lace book

Update: If I can finish KMP's second baby blanket before Christmas, I'll try to start the shawl on the train ride up to New England. But really - it's not looking good that this will happen.

6) Go to MS&W 2008 (this is a no-brainer)

7) Complete the following new projects:
  • Make at least 1 blanket for donation (charity TBD)
  • Baby blanket for Mindy Jr.
  • Crochet a rug from the yarn bought at the 2006 MS&W
  • Complete A-Z pillows for baby Brodie
  • Crochet Christmas stockings (but this one is a bit iffy)

  • I'm going to mail the hat I made for charity in place of the blanket. I did order some yarn for a charity blanket - which will probably be made in 2009.
  • The A-Z pillows have been taken off the list. The A pillow I started has been frogged. The bright acrylic yarn will be used for some other project.
  • A rug and Christmas stockings? Seriously? It's not gonna happen.

Just because a lot of my resolutions went uncompleted, I did accomplish quite a bit in 2008. The aforementioned learning to knit is a big one as well as designing and selling my first crochet patterns. Given the number of unexpected pregnancies, I was also uber busy with baby blankets (especially the knitted one that I should have crocheted). I also managed to visit a bunch of local yarn stores across the country. All in all, a productive year with 21 completed projects and even more yarn added to my stash.

I've got my list of 2009 Crafty Resolutions started and while it does include a number of uncompleted 2008 resolutions, it also has some fun, new ones. Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Completed Project: Afghan of the Sandman - Blue Edition

Last thing I knew, it was November. Then all of a sudden - ::Doppler effect sound:: - it's December. How the heck did that happen??? I still haven't painted the advent calendar (though Sean is enjoying the candy) but I did finally finish the Afghan of the Sandman blanket for KMP's soon-to-arrive baby boy. I finished it the Sunday after Thanksgiving and sent it, a surprise baby shower presentation, and some cute little onesies a few days later. According to USPS, the package arrived yesterday but I haven't heard anything from KMP or her DH.

Here's the Afghan. The final size was approximately 32.5" square. All details can be found on Ravelry. Click on the photos for close-ups.

Sandman Afghan Blue 08Sandman Afghan Blue 06Sandman Afghan Blue 07

Just like the last afghan, this blanket didn't really come together until the border was added. I do so love this pattern and I hope to make a version of this one for all the babies, plus one that Mom and Dad choose.

Here are the onesies I sent, too. They are just Gerber onesies (size 0-3 months) with iron decals I got at Joann's. Aren't they funny?

Kaui Baby Onesies

Sadly, the knitted baby blanket still isn't done and I honestly can't see it being done until after Christmas. It's now a bit too big to take with me on my commute and since I'm not allowed to start a new project until this one is done, I'm reading instead of knitting on the train. I'm not even sure if I'll need a third skein to finish it or not. What I do know is that I'm not knitting a baby blanket again anytime soon. Crocheting is just sooooo much faster and I like the results more, too. I have half a mind to frog the blanket I started and just crochet one in like a week.

The next baby I know of is due in May. Mom and Dad are Irish and have requested a green blanket. They won't know the gender of the baby until the big day so green will be a neutral, fun color for either boy or girl. I'm thinking of getting 4 different greens of Vanna's Choice yarn and perhaps doing some crocheted cable work on the blanket. If anyone has a good pattern book for crocheted cables, please let me know.

For now, back to the knitted blanket I must go before anything else is started.